Luis Martinez Jr. won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Portland International Raceway in Oregon using patience and staying calm when those around him experienced blown motors and lost control of their cars on Sunday.
Luis Martinez Jr. comes in for a victory at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Portland International Raceway
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Racer Luis Martinez Jr.
Martinez won the pole, the second of his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West career, and led the first three laps, but fell back as the Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 unfolded around the 1.967-mile road course.
"At the beginning of the race, we thought we really had something," Martinez said of his No. 6 King Taco/Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil Ford. "Sometime about halfway it kind of went backwards for us. We ended up in the back."
Greg Pursley, the leader in the K&N Pro Series West standings, passed Martinez for the lead on lap 4 and held it until lap 20. Martinez was able to take back the lead on lap 21, but held it for only a lap.
Luis Martinez Jr. wins the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Portland International Raceway in Oregon
Brandon Davis passed Martinez for the lead on lap 23 before Pursley jumped back out front on lap 27. Pursley was pulling away when his motor blew on lap 46 and he had to withdraw.
With Pursley out of the race, Michael Self and Andrew Ranger took turns leading. But Ranger's motor blew and Self spun out in the oil. But drivers fell out of contention after the crash.
Martinez worked his way back to the front and was racing Davis for the lead when Davis spun off the track.
"We couldn't really recover that fast," he said. "Little by little, we started making our way back up."
The next challenger for Martinez was David Mayhew. He passed Martinez on the last turn of the last lap of the race, but Mayhew overdrove the turn and went off the track. Martinez took advantage and rallied past Mayhew to the finish line.
Martinez, the 2010 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, won for the first time in 23 career NASCAR K&N Pro Series West starts and admitted after the race he thought his engine wasn't going to make it to the end of the race.
"We thought the motor was about to blow up," he said. "So I kind of drove it real easy and that helped us out when Mayhew overdrove it. That helped us get by him."
Eric Holmes followed Martinez in second place, followed by Derek Thorn in third.
"We gambled and I wasn't sure if it was the right thing or not, but it kinda paid off at the end there, all the stuff that was going on," said Holmes. "It was a little crazy there at the end. Too bad for David, he made a great pass there around the 6 car (Martinez) and I thought he had the win there, just overdrove the last turn. It was pretty wild the last couple laps. It was fun. Everybody ran pretty clean with each other."
Pursley led a race-high 37 laps, but finished in 26th place after blowing his motor. He has a 233-point lead over Moses Smith in the K&N Pro Series West standings. Martinez is third, 306 points behind Pursley.
Thorn was making his first K&N Pro Series West start for the Sunrise Ford team owned by Bob Bruncati.
"Third place here at the end was quite the feat," Thorn said. "My downfalls led to some positive things. We just kinda hung on there at the end. They kinda gave it to us. Pursley blew up. The 35 (Ranger) blew up. The 10 (Davis) went off the track. It was just kind of attrition. That's what everybody's been telling me: Bring it home in one piece and you'll be in the top five. That was the case and I can't thank these guys enough. It's cool for this team to come home one and three."
The Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 will be broadcast on Speed on Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. ET.
The next NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race is the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Colorado National Speedway on Aug. 6.
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